Back in August, as part of Bindu Wiles' 21.5.800 project, I wrote about my life as an ambivalent mother. I'm sure you don't remember this, as I never posted it. Why not? Because it's an intensely personal subject, and one that is not often discussed in public.
Mothers are supposed to be supportive, loving, kind, giving, and completely in love with the idea of being a mother. Because, you know, we chose to be mothers. Ok, some of us did. I did.
I'll tell you a little about ambivalent motherhood - it's tough, and it involves a lot of fake smiles and pretending. I can't explain why it happened, but I failed to have overjoyed feelings about being a mother. It's confusing, because the feeling has nothing to do with your child - oh, sure, I loved (still love) my son - but love staying home? Love changing diapers? Breastfeeding? Honestly, not much. I was not the pregnant woman who ran out and bought clothes and toys for my unborn child as soon as I discovered I was pregnant. I did not read up on all the hot new baby-rearing items. I did not decorate a nursery. I felt oddly distant. I never dreamt about having children, nor did I dream of this child. I had trouble even imagining what my life might be like.
It's very possible that my ambivalence stemmed from not having many friends with children, and then being completely isolated after my son was born. Nonetheless, I was startled one day by an old friend who said,
"I know it's hard, but it's all worth it, right?"
I stopped. I did not have an answer. Worth what? Obviously I had no choice. My son needed me. It just IS. I never assessed whether I enjoyed it, because it doesn't matter.
But, here's the thing: it DOES matter. I was not enjoying myself. I did not like myself.
As my son grew older and became more interactive, we started to have a lot more fun. There was this shadow hovering, my former self. My former (current?) ambivalence. So I chose to write about it.
Writing about the first 18 months of his life and about my pregnancy helped me let go of my ambivalence. I let go of my past, let go of the difficulties that led up to where I am now.
I'm not going to tell you that I'm one of those perfectly happy stay-at-home moms with a clean house, dinner on the table, and kids with perfectly organized routines. Because I'm not. And I never will be.
|March 2009 - Cute, silly, and loved. Really. Ambivalence toward motherhood is NOT ambivalence toward a child.|